Dario Ballantini: «I was rejected by Baudo, Nanni Moretti didn’t take it well»

from Renato Franco

«Over 70 imitations, a way to cancel myself. Painting is my self-analysis»

Rejected by Pippo Baudo, promoted by Antonio Ricci. “One door closed and another opened that led me to the program of my life.” One hundred thousand, Dario Ballantini, imitator and quick-change artist, is the masked face of
Strip the news
for almost 30 years, while at the theater he has staged no less than three shows: one on Petrolini, one on Dalla and one on the 10 imitations he feels are his.

The beginnings?
“As a kid. I was passionate about Alighiero Noschese who was a great imitator and quick-change artist of black and white TV. Then at school, in high school, I realized that I had this aptitude and I started doing cabaret in an artisanal way: the first wigs I created myself in a rudimentary way. Now I’m very meticulous, I always draw the characters to imitate before doing it».

First chance?
«In 1983, at the age of 19. Corrado had just moved from Rai to Canale 5 and they were looking for young talent around Italy. I was able to do eight episodes, then the real apprenticeship began ».

The turning point?
“Late eighties. I participated in Grand Prix, a Rai competition for young talents. I had practically been chosen by Baudo, but then they preferred to focus on an imitator, a woman who didn’t make a career, because she was new. I found myself kicked out and entered another contest, Star 90. I won and met Antonio Ricci who was on the jury. Five years later I convinced him to take me with the imitation of Dario Fo».

Why did it take so long?
«In those years imitations weren’t seen well, they were almost banned and not even Antonio knew how to use me. It’s a genre that then redeemed itself, I think also thanks to my imitation of Valentino. Or at least I think so.”

What strikes you about Antonio Ricci?
«Very keen observation, irony as thin as tissue paper».

The imitation you are most attached to?
«Valentino is the one who launched me and with him I took the imitations on the street for the first time, he was the first TV character on the road».

The best?
«Gino Paoli, as a resemblance and as an experiment. And then because making people laugh with Gino Paoli isn’t for everyone. Even Nanni Moretti, with his silences. Silence on TV is dangerous, TV is immediate, you can’t shut up and say nothing. With these two characters with shady imitations, a rarefied style has also been accepted on TV ».

On several occasions the imitator Ballantini met the real imitator. Who was witty and who was not?
«Gino Paoli and Vasco Rossi were very witty. Morandi too. Conte tried. Moretti, on the other hand, didn’t participate much».

Who took offense?
«Vittorio Emanuele didn’t take it well, but it was fun. Alvaro Vitali was his wife…».

Politicians are his core business…
«By now politicians have become more actors than real actors. Current events dictate the law, it is inevitable. Think of Ignazio La Russa: I launched him first of all but had stopped him since 1994. he Now he is back in vogue as president of the Senate ».

Who enjoys doing?
«I like Draghi, because he has something of Alberto Sordi:
I’m me and you…
Even Conte, for the gagà style. La Russa commits me a lot due to her cavernous voice and Mephistophelean air, I have to force myself to keep her face like a mask.’

Looking at the competition?
«Panariello with Renato Zero is ahead of everyone. I like Virginia Raffaele’s Ornella Vanoni: it would be nice to do a duet with my Gino Paoli. Crozza throws away the imitations a bit, he doesn’t wear perfect make-up, but his Mauro Corona amused me a lot ».

One and a hundred thousand: how do you keep the balance?
“It’s my life, it comes easy to me, otherwise I would have gone mad; it’s a way to undo myself and make another laugh inside me. I’ve done more than 70 imitations, after all I’ve lived another 70 lives».

The recurring nightmare?
«Not having the ready-made objects of the show, the wig, the glasses, the hats… tools that if you don’t take in those 10 seconds you lose the moment. The nightmare is losing the suitcase as the show begins. Maybe it’s a mania for precision».

You are also an appreciated painter.
«It’s another one of my parallel lives, Livorno is a city of art, I breathed art in my family and went to art school».

What’s his style?
«I don’t study the painting, I jump in and do it, I design it while I’m making it. I am an existentialist painter, I have a style between Sironi and Ennio Calabria. Painting is a passion that also makes you suffer, after all it is the result of a psychoanalytic session, of what I feel or of my thoughts on humanity, painting allows you to dissect and brood over a cauldron of ideas and thoughts».

Wearing so many masks, do few recognize the real Ballantini on the street?
«It’s a bit true, then with Morandi I became more “famous” because it’s the one I actually resemble most naturally. I was sorry at first, but I’ve lived with it all my life. Also because I have this peculiarity of the face that if I cut my hair not even my family members recognize me…”.

November 20, 2022 (change November 20, 2022 | 07:42)

Dario Ballantini: «I was rejected by Baudo, Nanni Moretti didn’t take it well»